A Sunny Day.

April 25, 2017

I guess we are still basking in the glory of a Wembley win, but it could have been so different.

Time for a reality check. We often complain about how a referee steals the game from us, that bad decisions have resulted in lost points, but Sunday we were blessed. Had the linesman made a correct call on  a cross going out of play, we would have legitimately been one down, Had the referee seen Ox’s ankle tap to bring down Aguero in the penalty area, it most probably would be two. City were all over us in the first half and anyone saying we were playing RopeaDope needs his/her bumps felt.  Added to their legitimate goal, we could have been 3-0 down.

But we weren’t 😃 😀

I said pre-game that we play better in the sun and so it proved, let us hope for the same the next time we go to Wembley.

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Ramsey has been quoted as saying “we have underperformed and now have 7 Cup Finals” left in the season. Ox says that the players have “let the club and the fans down”. Seems a bit obvious.  I know that football players have a mean IQ of below 50 but surely they know they have to give 100% in every game they play? It is an attitude I cannot understand. If I had an Aladdin’s lamp, my second wish would be to play for Arsenal First team – these lads have won life’s lottery.

Bellerin & the Back 3. He doesn’t fit in. Hector must know this, what will he and AW do? Ox has been excellent in his wingback role,  Holding, Gabriel and Monreal have also flourished (apart from losing Downing at ‘Boro).  Why change a winning formula?

written by Big Raddy


The Magic of the FA Cup returns on Sunday

April 21, 2017

On July 20th, 1871 at a Football Association meeting a discussion was held about “breathing life” into its Challenge Cup. After the formal business was concluded,

  1. W. Alcock proposed: “That it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association, for which all clubs belonging to the Association be, invited to compete.” The idea was received at once with general favour, and at a subsequent meeting held on October 16th 1871 the rules were drafted, the entries were received and history took a deep breath and prepared for the plunge.

That was the day that the FA Cup was born and 146 years later the magic remains.

The first FA Cup semi finals were held in 1872:

The two fixtures were:

Crystal Palace v Royal Engineers & Queens Park v Wanderers with both games ending in 0-0 draws. Royal Engineers won their replay 3-0, but it was a different story for Queens Park; public donations had been used for their long trip down from Glasgow for the first semi final at Kennington Oval but unfortunately they were unable to arrange the funding for the journey back for the replay and were forced to withdraw from the competition. However the lack of funds had a silver lining as it allowed the Scottish pioneers to hold their heads high and retain their dignity as they returned to Scotland unbeaten.

Shirt numbers were not even imagined back then and knickerbockered players were distinguished by the colour of either their caps or stockings. The crossbar was a length of tape or rope. Inside the touchlines the field was unmarked, chuck ins were taken with one hand and the teams changed ends after every goal was scored. There was little or no heading of the ball and defence was rarely considered. The game was based on dribbling with most of the team backing up the man in possession, somewhat like a standing scrum.

A few Semi Final facts-

Most used stadium: Villa Park 55 occasions.

Highest attendance: 88,141 Everton v Manchester United in 2009

Biggest win: 6-0 Newcastle over Fulham in 1908

Biggest post war victory: 5-0 Stoke over Bolton in 2011

Most games needed for a result: 4 – Arsenal vs. Liverpool in 1980

Highest scoring game: 5-3 Hull over Sheffield United in 2014

Most semi final appearances: Arsenal 29

The semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989 at Hillsborough ended in tragedy when 96 spectators were killed in a crowd surge due to overcrowding. The cause of this tragedy was studied and the conclusions reached have helped in the design of new stadiums.

Our first semi final was in 1906 when we lost 2-0 to Newcastle United.

Arsenal are now appearing in their all time record 29th semi final, 11 of them under the management of Arsène Wenger. Arsène has also won the cup on a record 6 occasions along with George Ramsay who was the club secretary of Aston Villa from 1874 to 1926.

This season the semi final draw pits four of the Premier League’s best teams against each other.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur on April 22nd.

Arsenal vs. Manchester City on April 23rd.

At this point I cannot think of a better ending to the season than Arsenal beating Tottenham in the final.

GunnerN5


Our Annual Trip to Wembley!

June 4, 2015

The build-up to Wembley started on the previous Thursday with Ant upsetting Pedro the Mackem on their five-a-side night with his answer to the question, ‘What are your plans for Wembley?’  Ant’s reply was, ‘The usual’ which was deemed  a little presumptuous by someone  who rarely gets to go. Then again, as this was to be our fourth trip in just over a year , was completely understandable.

Our routine involved an overnight stop at Beaconsfield and subsequent train into Wembley Stadium overground. So we set off at our ‘usual’ time of 8.45 in the car from Nottingham, aiming to get to Beaconsfield in time for a swift beer at the Wetherspoons alongside our budget hotel, before trekking off to get the bus into Beaconsfield town centre to catch the train. On the car journey we received a message from one of my godsons who’d drawn an Arsenal badge to get us in the right mood. Beautiful!

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So we arrived at the hotel car park, as was tradition, in plenty of time to sneak an aforementioned swift blonde real ale at the ‘Spoons. The first photo of Ant in his Cup Final beret was duly posted on Facebook and proceeded to get over 20 ‘likes’, largely down to Ant’s uncanny resemblance to Benny Hill.

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Our next photo message received showed the Vines Gooners from South London proudly displaying their yellow colours, including our littlest Gooner, Charlie. We also saw that my attempts at a homemade rosette had been well and truly trumped by older brother Jon with his spectacular red and white creation.

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Meanwhile Ant and I had disembarked at Wembley and had eventually found Watkin’s Folly, our potential first stop. A fiver on the door which was to include cheeseburger and chips put off the younger Vineses as we knew that a packed lunch of humungous proportions to come negated the need for early sustenance. The Sports Bar across the road had no such door charge and with Ant in desperate need of some bladder relief proved a convenient first stop in the Wembley environs.

The said bar was festooned with shirts from many top teams and also one from Totteringham Hotspurs. Ant’s attention was grabbed by a peculiar signed photo of Tony Adams cut from a newspaper which made our Tone look huge. Judge for yourselves.

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And so it was on to The Torch, our intended substitute for The Green Man which had been the venue for the Semi and both Semi and Final trips at the end of the 2013/4 season. The South London contingent arrived and we were provided with an FA Cup-themed packed lunch menu. So pleased we refused the cheeseburger!

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Jon strung his Santi banner up on the pub car park fence much to the consternation of the next door neighbour who’d had his fence pulled over in previous football supporters’ shenanigans. After some reassurance that we would be extra careful not to do any damage, photos were taken and the usual disarray ensued.

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The back bar of The Torch used for drink replenishment, was ideal with small queues which allowed  several refill runs with virtually no hassle, to be purchased. Double rounds the order of the day. Jon bought a free Captain Morgan hat for a fiver from a happy fellow Arsenal fan who cheekily tried to get us to buy another only a few minutes later.

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Having quaffed a gallon we set off toward the stadium, but as we were Eastsiders for the day, the route took us along Wembley Way for a change allowing time for more photos which demonstrated how we’d managed to stay pretty sober!

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Taking our seats, the atmosphere was electric. The Villa fans contributing a great amount to the atmosphere, while the Arsenal fans, complete with complimentary yellow and very dark blue scarves, turned Wembley East side to a cacophony of buzzing bees.

The match was a sublimely joyous celebration of Wengerball with almost zero stress, some magnificent goals and a Villa team completely outclassed on the day. What a Final for us Gooners to savour!

Post match saw more photo opportunities at our designated meeting point, the Bobby Moore statue.

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Next on the agenda was beer. We eventually found Las Iguanas restaurant in the Wembley retail complex and jugs of beer and some organic cider for older bro were ordered to be quaffed at a perfect table outside. We spoke to many supporters on their way past. The Villa fans were graciously magnanimous in defeat. In a way they were  just pleased to have avoided relegation thanks to Tim the Gooner and were revelling simply in the chance to be part of the day. All credit to them. Our favourite encounter was with a Villa fan who had teamed up with an Arsenal fan only an hour previously but who’d suddenly become best buddies. The Villa fan reminisced about players from previous generations including ‘Sideways’ Mortimer which involved a crab-like mime which was priceless. The mention of the venerable Jimmy Rimmer of Arsenal and Villa fame stimulated a favourite Arsenal keeper discussion of which Almunia was the clear winner. Superb.

Having turned down an overpriced burger restaurant, we headed back to our usual curry house on Wembley High Road. We were welcomed by the owner as if she recognised us.  It was another excellent decision and raucously enlivened by some Villa fans playing Roman numeral beer games at the adjacent table. Their forfeits involved the belting out of old Villa songs involving  ex players such as Nigel Reo-Coker  and garden sheds. We joined in their rendition of ‘ Where’s your European Cup?’ much to the consternation of a particular Arsenal fan on the table the other side of us.

All that was left for the day were train journeys back to our respective billets, so the four of us made our joyous way to the train station and eventually into the land of nod.

Ant had managed to procure an extra scarf and some discarded flags which I’ve since given to my godsons in Nottingham. Their Mum would like them to be Notts County supporters but she agreed that there’s no harm in them supporting another team ‘that wins things occasionally’. Haha.

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What an amazing trip, on a par with some of our Cardiff experiences of the early 2000s.

Up The Gunners, roll on next season.

Written by chas 


Wilshere and Welbeck to start at Wembley?

April 18, 2015

Well, With Whom Would you Wish Wenger to Walk onto the Werdant Wilds of Wemberlee? Wilshere, Welbeck, Wojciech or Wamsey?

Enough of that nonsense.

Let’s be honest we should win today but in the world of Arsenal there is many a slip twixt cup and lip. In a lifetime of supporting Arsenal I have witnessed many an embarrassing hiccup so I take nothing for granted but we should beat Reading – shouldn’t we?

We have won our last two games at Wembley, our form is excellent, we have had a week of rest and Diaby is fit. Reading are a decent team but in very average from – last 6 league games, D3 L3.

Can anyone explain this to me? The bookies are offering 14/1 for a Reading win and yet 1 to 4 on for an AFC win. Seems strange but I am no mathematician.

Unknown

The Current FA Cup Holders

How many of the players should be rested today without taking away the fluency of the team? I would bring in Debuchy and Gibbs, rest Alexis and perhaps Ozil giving Theo and Welbz a Wembley run, and TPIG for Ospina. But would such wholesale changes be too damaging?

Mr Wenger is a conservative manager, as such he would not make the wholesale changes BR suggests.

Wilshire was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch in his recent U-21 appearance and must be in the manager’s thoughts.  So ….. in essence I have no idea who will start this afternoon but this is my stab at the starting 11 …

My Team:

Szczesny

Debuchy      BFG      Koscielny     Gibbs

Wilshere      Le Coq     Cazorla

Walcott      Giroud       Welbeck

This is the team I expect AW to pick – same back 5, then

Ramsey   Le Coq

  Cazorla    Ozil

OG   Welbz

I could play with this all morning as it is many a year since we had so many possible formations and players to pick from. The squad is as good as I can ever remember.

I haven’t mentioned Reading much, have I? There is a reason  for this …. I know SFA about them. They have a couple of lardy big lumps up front who will try to muscle their way past our CB’s. A Chav loanee in midfield, an Arsenal schoolboy, Kanu on the wings – Reading are no doubt a battling, enthusiastic team. They will try to make it a physical battle because Reading are doomed if they try to play an expansive game. If we score early the game is over. If they score early TPIG will be the only player in the Arsenal half for the remainder of the game.

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Shape UP Man

Any game at Wembley is special. Being a traditionalist leftie hippy I prefer the old AV/MU grounds for the semi’s but who can deny Wigan/Reading/L’pool a Wembley day out. It is the highlight of their decade.

Last year’s FAC SF was one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of my life as a Gooner. We are prone to start slowly at Wembley – goodness knows why – and cannot this afternoon. Attack from the first, be aggressive, solid in defence with Le Coq holding the midfield. No stupid mistakes from the off-the-naughty-step Szczesny, some lethal finishing from our front men and another final awaits.

I am 74% confident.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


1936 and Arsenal win their 2nd FA Cup

April 18, 2014

It’s April 25th 1936 and Arsenal return to Wembley to face Sheffield United in their fourth FA Cup Final in nine years. Previously they lost 1- 0 to Cardiff City in 1927, won their 1st FA Cup in 1930, by beating Huddersfield Town 2-0, and then lost to Newcastle United 2-1 in 1932. Having won their first League Championship in 1930 and then again in three consecutive seasons from 1933 to 1935 they were now looking to add a second FA Cup to their 1930’s trophy collection. Herbert Chapman had died, suddenly, two years before and David Jack had hung up his boots. George Allison who was BBC Radio’s first football commentator, was now the new Arsenal manager. The attack was led by the formidable Ted Drake, who earlier in the season had scored seven goals against Aston Villa.

1936 FA Cup Final

1936finalkickoff

Harry Hooper of Sheffield United and Alex James of Arsenal shake hands at the start of the match.

The 1936 FA Cup Final was the sixty fourth and the fourteenth at the national stadium. Each team received a bye to the third round of the tournament, and then progressed through five rounds before reaching the final.

blast 10 1
Both Arsenal and Sheffield United were seeded into the third round of the FA Cup. In the third round itself, Arsenal was drawn away against Third Division South, Bristol Rovers Arsenal missed a penalty, and the third Division team went a goal up in the first half; Arsenal were playing so poorly that it seemed they would struggle even for a draw. The turnaround in the match occurred when manager George Allison moved Cliff Bastin to the inside left position. Arsenal equalized in the 65th minute, and scored a further four times over the course of the following fourteen minutes to win the game by five goals to one, with a single goal from Bowden and two each from Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin.

They followed this in the fourth round with a 2–0 victory over Liverpool Anfield. The match was played seven days after the death of King George V, with both teams wearing black armbands. The crowd of 60,000 stood to sing Abide by Me and God Save the King before the kickoff. In the fifth round they were drawn against Newcastle United, in a rematch of the 1932 final Newcastle had already knocked out the current cup holders, Sheffield Wednesday, in an earlier round. On the day, the gates to St James Park needed to be closed before the match started to keep additional spectators out, some 64,484 fans already being inside the ground. The match resulted in a 3-3 draw, Arsenal having gone a goal ahead each time, but Newcastle coming back and equalizing, in the replay at home, Arsenal won the game 3–0. They had gone a goal up in the first half from a penalty scored by Clifff Bastin after the Newcastle centre half handled the ball in the box. The second goal came during an advance by Arsenal, where the Newcastle goalkeeper, Norman Tapken, cleared the ball directly to Arsenal midfielder Pat Beasley, who promptly shot the ball into the back of an empty net. The final goal was another penalty, caused when Cliff Bastin was brought down in the box, who then took and scored the goal himself.

In their quarter final, they defeated Second Division Barnsley 4–1, having outplayed them right from the start, the first goal coming in the fourth minute from Pat Beasley in an attacking move. Bowden scored the second goal, and the third came from a penalty scored by Bastin. The fourth and final Arsenal goal was Beasley’s second, with Barnsley’s consolation goal coming a couple of minutes from the end of the match. In the semi final, played at Huddersfield Town’s ground, they defeated Grimsby Town 1–0 in a match that was described by reporters as completely one sided, with the goal coming from Bastin five minutes before half time.

Arsenal played in red and white shirts in an FA Cup final for the first time, on previous occasions in 1930 and 32 they wore fully red shirts. Additionally, before the 1967/68 season, Arsenal only wore team badges on their shirts on special occasions, such as FA Cup Finals. The 1936 cup final was the fourth occasion such a badge was worn.

150px-Arsenal_Crest_1936.svg The following is a match report that was taken from the Daily Telegraph
DRAKES GOAL WINS CUP FOR ARSENAL
SHEFFIELD UNITED NEARLY WIN MATCH
Drama of Dodds Header That Hit Post *
A Champagne Shampoo
By Frank Coles

Arsenal are Cup holders again for the second time in six years As expected, they beat Sheffield United in Wembley’s fourteenth Final Tie, but not as comfortably as 2-to-1-on favourites are supposed to win .
The honours of a match which rarely produced a high standard of play should go to Sheffield United, whose defence held out for an hour and a quarter and who twice narrowly missed taking the lead before Drake scored.

In winning the Cup for Arsenal at the 29th minute of the second half, Drake accepted the only scoring chance that came his way The opening was made by Bastin, who tricked Hooper very cleverly before pushing the ball squarely across to his unmarked centre-forward.

It was the kind of opportunity Drake had been waiting for all the afternoon and, quick as thought, he swung his left leg at the ball Before Smith, the goalkeeper, could move an inch a crashing drive had found the roof of the net.

Sheffield United could argue with justification that Bastin, might not have put Drake through if Hooper had not been handicapped by a leg injury They could also point to the fact that Jackson, playing immediately in front of Hooper, was also limping.

Drake’s goal gave new life to a game which for the greater part of the second half, had lapsed into a dull, humdrum affair, so lacking in quality and thrills that the 93,000 crowd was almost silent.

BAD LUCK FOR UNITED
However, a touch of genuine drama was to follow No sooner had United set the ball rolling again than Barton streaked past Hapgood and swung over a beautifully accurate centre Dodds, pounding down the middle, got his head to the ball and a thrilled crowd yelled “Goal!

But no, the ball hit the crossbar with a bang instead of going into the net, terribly bad luck for United. They had struck back gallantly, and for practically the first time Arsenal’s magnificent defence was shaken The movement, swift and sudden skilfully executed was a reminder of what had happened in the opening quarter of an hour, and it set me wondering why United did not exploit their five-men-up attack more often. As I had prophesied, United were an extremely dangerous team in the first 15 minutes because they were willing to gamble on attack They threw the last ounce into a grand assault on Arsenal’s goal and, as early as the third minute, nearly succeeded

BRILLIANT DEFENDERS
For 20 minutes United had Arsenal’s defence at full stretch All this time Smith, in the United goal, was a spectator When, at length, he was called into action he ought to have been beaten; from Bastin’s pass Bowden had an easy scoring chance To the undisguised dismay of Drake, who was by his side, Bowden shot weakly outside the post.

This, Arsenal’s first rejoinder to United’s beginning gesture, marked the transfer of the initiative. Whereas Arsenal’s goalkeeper was untroubled for the remainder of the opening half, Smith became the busiest man on the field incidentally, he proved himself a first-class workman.

The half hour after the interval did not provide the onlookers with much excitement.

Fortunately, Drake’s goal and United’s bid to save the match made the last quarter of an hour worth while, but I am bound to say that as a spectacle this latest Final Tie disappointed me. The Sheffield forwards were unlucky. On their first Wembley appearance they met the most astute defence in the country And if they had shown a sign of wavering, United’s attack assuredly would have won the match.

Barclay and Pickering, the inside forwards, were a long way ahead of Bowden and James They tried mightily hard to draw a cast-iron defence by holding the ball, and their understanding with the wing men was excellent.

At outside right Barton was as effective as Hulme, without attempting to be as spectacular – he was always a worry to Hapgood – and, until he was slowed down by injury, Williams was dangerous, despite the fact that he was up against Male, the best back on the field.

The experience of Dodds was in one respect similar to that of Drake Both met master stoppers But Dodds was given a far better service than Drake received If his luck had been good he would have converted a flashing cross from Williams midway through the second half The pace of the ball just beat him

I have described Male as the outstanding back Second to him I rate Hooper, United’s captain, who had the difficult job of subduing Bastin. Johnson, the centre-half, also played a great game.

Arsenal – Wilson, Male, Hapgood, Crayston, Roberts, Copping, Hulme, Bowden, Drake, James (Captain), Bastin

Sheffield United – Smith, J, Hooper (Captain), Wilkinson, Jackson Johnson, McPherson, Barton, Barclay, Dodds, Pickering, Williams

Referee H Nattrass (Durham) Linesmen: J M Wiltshire (Dorset) and Dr A W Barton (Amateur FA.)
Attendance 93.384

ted drakes winning goal
Ted Drake’s winning goal.

It was Arsenal’s sixth success in League and Cup in seven seasons but their triumph did not get the deserved news coverage. A dispute over terms between Wembley and the news reel companies led to the ban on film cameramen inside the stadium. The companies still took to the air and shortly before kick off a whirl of auto-giros rose above Wembley. The only film taken inside the ground was an official one.

alex james

Alex James holding the 1936 FA Cup.

GunnerN5


Depressed of N5…

April 14, 2014

I remember the day we beat Wolverhampton Wanderers to earn our place in the 1979 FA Cup Final.

As an impoverished student at the time (well, alright, I’d spent my grant on alcohol) I couldn’t afford to go to the semi final at Villa Park and had to rely on radio coverage. Goals from Alan Sunderland and Frank Stapleton were enough to get us to Wembley.

When the radio commentator said the final whistle had gone I was a walking bundle of clichés: over the moon, cock-a-hoop, on cloud nine, walking on air, happy as Larry when Larry has just won the lottery and landed a date with Joanna Lumley (it was the 1970s, remember)…

But my reaction wasn’t unusual. Every single Arsenal supporter – and I really mean EVERY Arsenal supporter – was absolutely thrilled that we had made it to the Cup Final.

In those days before email and mobile phones we called each other up, met in pubs to celebrate and generally annoyed the hell out of anyone who wasn’t fortunate enough to be a Gunner.

The fact that we had beaten lowly, relegation-battling Wolves to get to the final didn’t come into it. Nor that our league form that season was average at best (we ended up finishing seventh).

The point was, we had landed a big day out at Wembley and the chance to claim silverware and glory.

The only emotion throughout N5 and the Arsenal supporting world was one of joy.

You can probably see where I am going with this.

After the drama of our penalty shoot-out victory over Wigan on Saturday most of the Arsenal community shared a similar feeling of joy.

But a significant minority of people who call themselves Arsenal fans were not delighted. In fact they were as undelighted as a man who inadvertently steps in doggie doodoo… only to realise he forgot to put on his shoes and socks that morning.

They grudgingly acknowledged that it was a good thing to be in the FA Cup final, but what they really wanted to talk about was the fact that (a) our performance in the semi final had been awful or (b) it was “only Wigan” and we should have rolled over them without a problem or (c) that the FA Cup isn’t really a “top rank” trophy like the league title or the European Champions League or (d) “it’s a disaster because now it means Wenger will probably stay”.

Without getting into the merits of points A, B, C and D, surely what is important is that we have a Cup Final to look forward to and a real chance to win our first trophy for nine years?

How anyone who self-identifies as an Arsenal supporter cannot find joy in that fact is completely and utterly beyond me.

But it may not be beyond the explanation of psychology.

Joylessness is a recognised indicator and symptom of depression. It literally means the inability to experience joy in situations where you would normally expect to do so.

For example, someone who normally loves beautiful scenery would, when in a joyless state, be left completely unmoved by a particularly stunning vista. Their mind may even tell them that it is a stunning vista and that they should be feeling overjoyed to look on it, but their soul is not touched by that joy.

Even people suffering from mild depression will often experience the phenomenon.

The sad conclusion of this train of thought is that a section of the Arsenal fan base is clinically depressed. They have become so accustomed to negative thought patterns that when something unequivocally positive happens they just can’t feel it.

The rest of us should not be angry with them: we should feel sorry for them.

Fortunately, there are some very well proven treatments for mild depression. They include exercise, eating whole grain food and meditating. So if you know a fellow fan who has been sullen and unresponsive since we defeated Wigan, why don’t you suggest they do the following: put on a pair of trainers; jog to Greggs; buy a whole grain sandwich; silently contemplate it for twenty minutes; then scoff it.

I guarantee if they do all of the above, before the last bite has slipped down their gullet they’ll leap into the air and break into a rendition of: “Wemberley, Wemberley, we’re the famous Arsenal and we’re going to Wemberley…”

And if that doesn’t work, just give them a hug.

RockyLives

* Despite missing out on the 1979 semi-final, I managed to get to Wembley for the final against Manchester United thanks to a United supporting friend from Dublin. It was the Liam Brady final and it produced memories I treasure to this day. Now we have another chance for more great Cup Final memories. How can anyone not be excited by that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wembley Domination

April 13, 2014

Having just woken up at 8am having arrived home at 1:30 am this is going to be a quickie. Getting the train home last night with intoxicated Norwich fans singing “we’re shit and we’re going down” certainly adds some perspective to a day out at Wembley where yes we didn’t play well but also resulted in a return trip and another day out for those lucky enough to be there.

I have seen some criticism of the fans “celebrating like we won the cup” it’s hard to be in Wembley and not feel like that, and with the allocation of tickets for the final likely to be a third of what we had yesterday it is unlikely those who were there yesterday will have a chance of being back for the final itself.

We filled the Green Man pub at 1pm and we filled the ground more than two thirds. Waning support? Not in evidence here. The atmosphere at kick off was full of passion and hope.

Unfortunately as we failed to make the most of early possession the songs turned to frustration and worse very quickly, I’d say the split was 50:50 in terms of those preferring to man than support.

At half time we went in 0-0 with little of note being created for either side.

The second half continued in a similar vein until Monreal got pushed off the ball, Vermaelen didn’t want to commit to a last gasp tackle and BFG stuck out a long leg to bring down the Wigan forward. This actually stirred the crowd into action and we sang in defiance up until the penalty went in and Gibbs replaced Monreal.

That was actually the turning point to our performance Gibbs was prepared to get past Podolski where Monreal hadn’t bothered either because he knew he didn’t have the legs to get back to recover ground that Podolski wouldn’t.

A while later after Rosler went to three centre backs Arsene changed it again, unleashing Giroud and removing the disappointing Podolski and switching to 4-4-2.

That was probably the decisive change we played the percentages more and after a few more close shaves we finally breached the Wigan defence, Oxhitting the ball into the ground and finding BFG at the far post who headed home. I was waiting for the flag to go up thankfully it didn’t.

BFG celebrates

We couldn’t breach it again in the remaining minutes or in extra time and we went to penalties.

Fabianski the hero

Fabianski channelling the spirit of Arsenal keepers of the past stopped the first two Wigan penalties. Whilst Arteta and Kallstrom dispatched with ease. The next two Wigan penalties, were scored which meant after Giroud had scored with the nanananaaaaas ringing in his ears it was left to Santi to send Arsenal back to Wembley and the fans into ecstasy.

Written by Gooner in Exile